REFLECTION: Norms of piety PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 October 2011 15:07


Since Christian life is a shared life with God, everything has to be done, always with the impulse of grace, to keep that nature and character of such life intact all the time. We have to be aware of this ideal and try our best to make it real daily.

We therefore need to see to it that our thinking, judging, reasoning, deciding, feeling, speaking, acting, etc., acquire a supernatural tone expected of Christian life. To a Christian faithful, life can only be either with God or without Him. There’s no such thing as an in-between, though that lifestyle is common.

Without God, our life can only be that of an animal, guided at best by varying degrees of rationality. But sooner or later, it would degenerate into one dominated merely by passions and emotions, and by purely material and temporal dimensions of our earthly life. That’s what I call the low life.

We need to develop and keep a vibrant supernatural life. That’s why we have to adapt an appropriate lifetime program that would help us to maintain a living contact with God even while immersed in our temporal affairs and mundane activities.

If we are serious about pursuing an authentic Christian life, then we can readily see the importance of coming up with an effective plan that functions 24/7.
We have to go beyond treating our Christian life as if it’s just a matter of a set of pious practices that we do from time to time, or a question of coming up with a good behavior report. In this regard, we have to pass from amateur to professional.

The basic attitude that we should keep in our mind and heart is the eagerness to look for God always and in every place, situation or circumstance. We need to look for him, so we can find him, then love and serve him. That, in effect, is what Christian life is all about.

This involves trying to live in the presence of God always, discerning what his will really is for us at any given moment, learning how to relate and offer our work and all our concerns to God, figuring out how our activity at the moment fits in God’s overall providence, etc.

We have to make this eagerness alive always, fanning it into flame, even to the point of making some extraordinary sacrifices, as when we have to do battle with our tendency to laziness, attachment to comfort, and when gripping temptations assail us.

To keep this lifestyle going, we need to make use of effective means that can give us the timely motives, the determined will to move on in spite of all obstacles. Our survival in this area is far more important than our survival in our earthly affairs.

And so we have to realize that we need certain spiritual exercises to nourish this vital contact with God. These could be some minutes of mental prayer, spiritual reading, Holy Mass and communion, Holy Rosary, confession, abiding study, acts of faith, love, contrition, examination of conscience, mortification, etc.

They can be called norms of piety, since when we commit ourselves to them, we can have some objective standards to measure our performance of our spiritual life.
Each one has to devise a plan that would fit him given his circumstances. These norms should help him rather than impede him in his spiritual life, as when one is not comfortable with them.

Obviously, there will always be sacrifice needed. Piety would not be genuine if the cross is not present there. True piety expects all forms of crosses—physical, mental, emotional, moral and spiritual.

The plan should be so designed as to effectively tackle the challenges we can face in life. The pressures and problems can arise from our own weakened self (greed, pride, lust, etc.), the harmful allurements and worries of the world, as well as the wiles of the devil.

It should incorporate some features for a continuing formation to flow with the dynamics of our Christian engagement with the world. At the moment, the world is sinking fast into secularism and relativism, as the Pope has often warned us, and we should be active in dissipating these anomalies.

So what is clear is that we just cannot be in improvising all the time in our spiritual life and in our commitment to Christianize the world. We need to be committed, properly armed and in the best fighting condition possible.

Thus, we need a serious lifetime plan with the appropriate attitude and norms of piety.